Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 543(333) Food & Retirement

This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

We enjoyed a four hour, eleven course meal one time in Paris. I recall disappointment when the first course arrived and it was just this little, twisted morsel of something on a plate with some sauce. Little did I realize that by the time the evening ended I would be absolutely stuffed and dizzy with appreciation of combinations of taste. The ambience, food, wine and conversation blended into the perfect evening.

My wife was attending three weekly sessions at LaVerane School of Cooking in Paris. I assumed the role of the decadent American husband who wandered the city by day, sat in sidewalk cafes, smoked thin cigars and watched the parade of colorfully dressed Parisians.  I was invited to joined the chefs and students for an evening feast at a carefully chosen restaurant at least once a week. What a life.

One thing about retirement: the appreciation of food accelerates. We can enjoy the growing, the planning, the cooking, the colors, and the eating. We have time. It brings to mind the cliche about no one going to their grave wishing they had worked one more day in the office. I should guess that many people May go to their grave thinking of food they have grown or food they have eaten and wishing for more.

It is easy to remember the traditional feasts that use to bless us on holidays. We all had time then - even when we were working. We made time for the big dinner. We made time for the trip to our grandparents. Those meals came two or three times each year. Not enough. We had to rush to prepare them, rush to eat them and rush to get home to prepare for the coming work week.

Retirement opens another door. I have to admit that we have enjoyed delicious, leisurely dinners every week over the past twenty-six years. We have been lucky enough to have friends who also love good food. We find ourselves hosting or being guest at these memorable dinners often. The opening course of wine and hors d'oeuvres, the dinner that is laid out carefully with attention paid to color and season of the year, the salad that always adds a bit of healthy color and nutrition and then the delicate dessert and coffee. All of this accompanied by an assortment of wines. And all the while interesting conversation flows freely. Being retired allows us to  immerse ourselves in the wonders of the joy of fine food.

While having lunch in a greek restaurant in Vancouver today my wife mentioned how during our working days as teachers she use to gaze out the window of an empty classroom around noon and envy those that were out and about town for lunch. Retirement frees us to sit for an extra coffee after lunch while the variety of city life parade by. We should be aware of this luxury and take advantage.

We also heard the story today from my guitar teacher of her brother who just died yesterday. He lived in Victoria and gardened as a retiree. He really gardened. He had a greenhouse where he grew oranges and even bananas (this is in the Pacific Northwest) He had built a big greenhouse all by himself. She said "He was a vegetarian and grew everything he ate."   

My neighbors who are retired all garden. They grow food and flowers. We are more into the flower thing. I should admit that my wife is into the flower thing. I really don't do much in the way of gardening. My interest in vegetable gardens rest in eating the produce. We do grow a few vegetables and this year she is trying straw gardening which is new to both of us. The local farmers market provides us with fresh vegetables throughout the summer. It not only provides nourishment for the body but it brings us in contact with neighbors and community members who nourish our soul.

Brenda is also the chef in the family. She loves to cook. She has acquired all of the tools of the trade over the years and puts them to good use. She also sets a beautiful table of various colored plates, platters, flatware and glassware. When set, the table always looks like a painting. One retirement project was to design and make our own round dining table from walnut several years ago with the help of an expert woodworker. It expands to seat eight comfortable and ten with just a little effort. We have spend hundreds, if not thousands, of evenings gathered around that table as night came on bathed in candlelight with a focus on food and conversation.

She also subscribes to food magazines and constantly finds new receipts. It always amazes me that the dinners from night to night may consist of almost anything. She always says "I've never made this so I hope it is good." I humbly accept the challenge of trying various new dishes.

My contribution to dinner always rests in cleaning up. I am the busser and dishwasher.  I love the thoughtless activity accompanied by my favorite music or podcast. There is no pressure to finish up so that I can get to bed so that I can get up early and get to work. Retirement has it's advantages.

Of course we do eat to live but for many of us find that living to eat certainly has attraction. We do this for no other reason that enjoying it. It is hard to find fault. We just have to remember to control the quantity.

This is Retirement Talk.

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